COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers will put a bow on their preseason on Thursday against the San Francisco 49ers.
We're not sure about Los Angeles leaving its heart in San Francisco, or even Santa Clara, for that matter. We do know the Chargers won't leave behind a chance for a rebound season.
That's why Philip Rivers will look snappy on the sidelines in a baseball cap. Antonio Gates will be minus his pads, while flashing his huge smile and ribbing teammates. Joey Bosa will be idle, his jets cooled, like the other starters, until the Sept. 11 opener against the Broncos.
Coach Anthony Lynn might hint that some of his star players will get a series or two. But the tug you feel might be him pulling your leg.
Yep, the Chargers are raring to go. There just won't be many first-stringers playing at Levi Stadium. It's the final game for backups to prove the NFL isn't too big for their britches.
Lynn is in his first year as a head coach but he knows Thursday isn't for Rivers and other frontline players. There's something else Lynn has absorbed: when the games do start to matter, he's got Rivers to lean on.
"He's a leader," Lynn said. "He gets us to the right place and we move the ball."
The chains were stuck when Rivers was chillin' this summer. The offense went 18 straight possessions without scoring a touchdown with someone other than No. 17 was at quarterback.
In Rivers' cameo appearances in two preseason games, he was 11 of 12 for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Of the three drives he was under center, the Chargers scored three touchdowns.
"This is about the time you start to itch for the opener," THE 35-year-old Rivers said.
Those scratching their head over Rivers still slinging the ball keenly need to get used to it. He hasn't slowed down, and if the Chargers can establish a running game as Lynn promised, Rivers could be far from finished.
"We've had some good drives," Rivers said. "But we have a long ways to go, a lot of room to improve."
There's not much Rivers can do on Thursday night against the 49ers to get better. It's certainly not worth the risk of injury, which would derail Lynn's rookie season before it gets started.
NOTES: WR Isaiah Burse, who was playing despite a shoulder injury, sustained a concussion on a second-half kickoff. He will not play on Thursday. ... WR Mike Williams (back) won't practice this week and there's a chance he starts the season on PUP. ... WR Tyrell Williams didn't dress for the Rams game. ... TE Antonio Gates, who didn't play against the Rams, returned to practice.
RT Joe Barksdale (foot) missed his second straight game. ... QB Kellen Clemens didn't playing in the Rams game as coach Anthony Lynn continues to evaluate other players at his spot, in particular, Cardale Jones. ... FS Dwight Lowery had a big hit in the Rams game and continues to hold off Tre Boston for the starting role. But it's a close battle. ... CB Jason Verrett saw game action for the first time this summer against the Rams. Verrett is coming back from last year's knee surgery. ... DE Melvin Ingram had a 76-yard fumble recovery in the Rams game. He seems to be energized and playing well in the new 4-3 scheme. ... DE Joey Bosa showed the impact he can have against the Rams as he sacked and stripped Jared Goff of the football. Melvin Ingram would scoop up the football and run for a 76-yard touchdown. ... RB Andre Williams, who is fighting for a roster spot, didn't help his cause with a fumble in the Rams game. ... K Josh Lambo appears to have the inside track to retain his starting spot.